The Annotated Three Pines – Kingdom of the Blind

From (acknowledgements)
Whale oil beef hooked

Louise’s Thoughts:
Haha! I wonder how many of you recognized this quote from an earlier book (Book 2 in the series, when we first meet Billy Williams), and can de-code what it/he is trying to say. My editor, Hope Dellon to whom the book is dedicated, especially liked this moment between Gamache and Billy, and that’s why I use it. It’s also a running joke between us…sending each other deeply inappropriate cards etc with the ‘f’ word. Poor Armand has struggled the entire series to understand the back-woods man, though no one else seems to have difficulty. A trick is to say this phrase quickly out loud. But perhaps not in polite company.

From Pg. 4
Gamache looked again at the once-strong house and smiled. Feeling a kinship toward it. Things sometimes fell apart unexpectedly. It was not necessarily a reflection of how much they were valued.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Armand is still suspended from the Surete. An organization he helped save. And rebuild. But he’s also a realist and understands the difference between taking things personally, and politics. Between the way the world is, and the way it should be. His career has, to all appearances, fallen apart. But that doesn’t diminish his loyalty to the Surete, or the rank-and-file loyalty to him.

From Pg. 12
Gamache noticed that Myrna’s attitude had changed slightly. No longer fearful, she looked at their host with what appeared to be pity. There were some creatures who naturally evoked that reaction. Not given armor, or a poison bite, or the ability to fly or even run, what they had was equally powerful. The ability to look so helpless, so pathetic, that they could not possibly be a threat. Some even adopted them. Protected them. Nurtured them. Took them in.

Louise’s Thoughts:
This quote ends with the words, And almost always regretted it.. There’s a saying that I believe Gamache (or was it Myrna) quotes in an earlier book. The tyranny of the weak. It’s an uncomfortable issue to explore. The use of guilt, of manipulation, of victimhood by some, to get what they want. What makes this so uncomfortable is knowing that many people do legitimately need help. A kind and supportive ear. A hand up. In fact, we all do at times. I certainly had a low point, and people reached down and saved me. But I was anxious to get on my feet. As are most people. But a select few are not. They’ve made manipulation an art. So that even sophisticated people like Myrna fall prey. As she’s in danger of doing here.

From Pg. 58
“‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad. / They may not mean to, but they do,’ ” Ruth quoted. “I know that poem,” said Benedict, and all eyes swung to him. “But that’s not the way it goes.” “Oh really?” said Ruth. “And you’re a poetry expert?” “No, not really. But I know that one,” he said. If not oblivious to sarcasm, at least impervious to it. A useful trait, thought Armand. “How do you think it goes?” asked Reine-Marie. “‘They tuck you up, your mum and dad,’ ” said the young man, reeling it off easily. “‘They read you Peter Rabbit, too.’”

Louise’s Thoughts:
I wish I could say I made up Benedict’s alternative This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin, but I actually heard it from Robert Bathurst, who voices the audio tapes. We were having lunch in London and comparing favourite poems. I said how much I liked This Be The Verse, and he reeled off the ‘flip side’, written by Adrian Mitchell. I tucked it away, and a year or so later realized this would be a good time to use it. Not only is is hilarious, it illustrates a theme through the books. One of choice. Of what we hear and what we choose to believe. And, of course, it was fun having the ‘poetry-off’ between wizened embittered Ruth and milk fed Benedict – who seemed too good to be true.

From Pg. 166
Entitlement was, she knew, a terrible thing. It chained the person to their victimhood. It gobbled up all the air around it. Until the person lived in a vacuum, where nothing good could flourish.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Entitlement, it seems to me, is the opposite of gratitude. It blinds and deafens, and feeds into what we discussed earlier. That sense of victimhood and unfairness. To seeing only what is missing and not what is there. What has been denied and not what has been given. It leads to resentments, which eat a person from the inside out. As you can see, I am no great fan of entitlement. Though I make a distinction between entitlement (which implies a sort of manifest destiny) and having earned something. Worked for it. And are therefore entitled to it. Might sound like a fine distinction, but in my view a crucial one.

Discussion on “The Annotated Three Pines – Kingdom of the Blind

  1. Marie-Josee Pilon says:

    Whale oil beef hooked… Oh my! got it and absolutely love it! I’m still laughing and will use it if I may with special friends. I agree, we will all of us !

    • Karen Crandell says:

      Marie-Josee, I read it quickly out loud this morning and finally got it! How funny! I could not imagine what Billie was saying, and this is the best! Using it with friends as well.

    • Betty says:

      I finally got it too! It’s nice to know Armand and I have something in common, the inability to understand what Billy says. Lol. I recently retired to the Adirondacks and due o a hearing impairment, what I hear being said by the Adirondack natives often sounds like “whale oil beef hooked”!

    • Patricia Sweeney says:

      I got it, too! What a fun puzzle!!

    • Jane Moore says:

      Me too….I should have known there was a real meaning to this.

    • V says:

      Oh my, I finally got it.

  2. Mary Foree says:

    Re: whale oil…I love to listen to your books, Louise – and when this passage played, I stopped the book and rewound. And rewound. And rewound once more. I was laughing so hard that my husband walked in to see what was so funny! Sometimes having the written word works even better that listening, but in this case, Robert Bathurst’s rendition of “Whale oil beef hooked” was perfection! ❤️your books, Louise! (And I’ve now gotten my husband “hooked!” ;-)

  3. Holly Kostuk says:

    I will definitely add this to my frequent exclamations!!! It has such a nice ring to it!

  4. Mary Foree says:

    Re: whale oil…I love to listen to your books, Louise – and when this passage played, I stopped the book and rewound. And rewound. And rewound once more. I was laughing so hard that my husband walked in to see what was so funny! Sometimes having the written word works even better that listening, but in this case, Robert Bathurst’s rendition of “Whale oil beef hooked” was perfection! Love your books, Louise! (And I’ve now gotten my husband “hooked!” ;-)

  5. kate crosby says:

    I don’t get it. Pleas explain.

  6. Beky Hazelton says:

    What a perfect hidden exclamation! And yes I missed it till now. Say it fast until you get it! Louise, tour sense of humor is priceless!

  7. Fran says:

    Haha! Saying it fast and out loud, I finally understood Billy Williams!

  8. Karen Lewis says:


  9. Nancy Wagner says:

    I finally got it too! So funny! Thanks for your hard work Louise….I cannot wait until next week to delve into Three Pines again! ❤️

  10. Maradel Sager says:

    Well I didn’t get it at first either…but when I read somewhere to say it real fast…after a couple of repeats, I fell on the floor in hysterics…not literally, of course, on the floor , but the hysterics part is true… lived it…thanks once again Louise….I love inappropriate cards for good friends also.

  11. Judith says:

    In preparation for Saturday’s unveiling of “A Better Man”, I just finished rereading the previous 14. I was in perfect sync with these annotations. Thank you, Louise! Four of us are driving up from Southern Maine on Friday. Sadly, only one of us was able to get a seat inside the tent, but we’re on the waiting list with our fingers crossed! All ready to scream “whale oil beef hooked” if we get in!

    • Karen Crandell says:

      Not able to go North for the unveiling, but have re-read the series, and just finished in time for “A Better Man”. Thank you, Louise, for giving us Three Pines! Whale oil beef hooked indeed :)

  12. Barbara Bole says:

    whale oil beef hooked! Just got it! It’s fresh in my mind as I just finished rereading Kingdom of the Blind! Good one! Both book and quote!

  13. Sandy says:

    Do you ever dream of Gamache?

  14. Anne Peterson says:

    Heeheehee! Whale oil beef hooked…❤️You’re awesome. Can barely wait another week!

  15. nancy h says:

    I remember laughing at “whale oil beef hooked” in How The Light Gets In. Truthfully it took me a few minutes to decode “Norfolk and chance” in that book. After that “whale oil …” was pretty easy. Thanks for providing these annotations. They reminded me of all the fun I’ve had “visiting” Three Pines. Plus, they helped pass the time while waiting for the release of A Better Man! Only 7 more days to go! I feel like a kid – waiting for Christmas, my birthday, and the start of summer vacation all rolled into the same day! Thanks Louise!

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